Louis Vuitton Resort 2016 (via)
There are two types of ugly:
- the new
- the old
"Because your eye isn't used to it," explains J.W. Anderson (a former Prada protege who designs Loewe), "when you find something really new, I always find it's really ugly." Probably because a context or frame of reference has yet to be found and we, as a species, really do love to fit things into category-boxes. Exhibit A: Alexander McQueen's amazing Armadillo footwhatevers (bottom right)...theatrical, towering, uncategorizable.
And more than 5 years after originally walking the Spring 2010 runway, the fact that McQueen's creation still defies neat-categorization is proof that it has met the requirement of that most brutal judge of what's actually cool, the passage of time, as being forward-thinking. How? By the way the bootie distorts familiar proportions to the point of being unrecognizable, yet still remains "wearable."
(The issue of whether you can actually walk in these 10" heels...well, that's your problem, so deal.)
And now, the old.
Exhibit B: the recent spate of fuglies including Birkenstocks with a fur-covered footbed, no less, at Celine for Spring 2013 (right), bizarrely-bejeweled Tevas by Prada for S'14 (below left) and Fabrizio Viti's FrankenFitFlop for Louis Vuitton (Resort '16).
These shoes all "hark back to the footwear of family vacations (the Teva), the school gym (the slider), or your former-hippie relatives (the Birkenstock)," notes an interesting piece in i-D. Hailing "from the wellness world of ugliness, the shoe references sportswear and the medically prescribed," they continue. "It gives us something we at least partly recognize." Which is one key to this ugly-shoe mystery. "It is both familiar and unfamiliar. And because of that, according to Freud, it is uncanny. It both repels and attracts us — which is a psychic situation ripe for obsession."
But, this being fashion, the medium is the message, which is all that really matters.
According to fashion historian Valerie Steele, where your conventionally-attractive heel tells bystanders: "I go to clubs with velvet ropes outside on Saturday nights," the uglyass shoe is more of a subtle fashion in-joke. Which is shared with others similarly in-the-know...typically types who (claim to) understand infamous Rei Kawakubo's "lumps and bumps" collection (below). According to Steele, when the comfort-shoe speaks, it apparently says: I know who "Phoebe Philo is, I read books and I like Georgia O'Keefe...like a secret masonic handshake."
Comme des Garcons Spring 1997 - Body Meets Dress / Dress Meets Body better known as Lumps & Bumps (via)